Sunday, December 2, 2012


There is and has been a lack of use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation by the faithful. Although in our parish, there are quite a number of Confessions heard each week. That’s because priests are in the Confessional seven days a week.

There was a similar situation in 19th century Ars, France where St. John Mary Vianney is the patron of all priests. When he first arrived in his parish, he discovered unhappily that the people were by and large living their lives without Christ. And they were baptized Catholics! Yet, after a while St. John was able to get the faithful to regular Confessions. Those going to Confession were people not only from his parish in Ars but also people from all over France. He would spend up to 16 hours a day hearing confessions.

Here are some of the facts that our Holy Father wrote about him:
"... He (St. John Vianney) sought in every way, by his preaching and his powers of persuasion, to help his parishioners to rediscover the meaning and beauty of the Sacrament of Penance, presenting it as an inherent demand of the Eucharistic presence.

"It is not the sinner who returns to God to beg his forgiveness, but God himself who runs after the sinner and makes him return to him.
The Holy Father urged priests to learn from St. John Mary Vianney to "put our unfailing trust in the Sacrament of Penance, to set it once more at the center of our pastoral concerns, and to take up the 'dialogue of salvation,' which it entails.

"...those who came to his confessional drawn by a deep and humble longing for God's forgiveness found in him the encouragement to plunge into the 'flood of divine mercy' which sweeps everything away by its vehemence.

"He awakened repentance in the hearts of the lukewarm by forcing them to see God's own pain at their sins reflected in the face of the priest who was their confessor.
"In his time the Cure of Ars was able to transform the hearts and the lives of so many people because he enabled them to experience the Lord's merciful love.”
Pope Benedict also noted that St. John Vianney would give light penances and he himself would make up the rest of the penance in their place. He so desired to make Confession as easy as possible for everyone. The Sacrament of Penance (Reconciliation) is essential for healthy souls and, in the case of serious sins, for salvation.

So, let us make good use of this Sacrament of God’s mercy not just now before Christmas, but often throughout the year.

Father Stanley

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